Friends of the Bay Executive Director Kyle Rabin of the Coalition to Save Mill Pond asked members of the Oyster Bay Civic Association to ask the county and the town to acquire the Mill Pond Overlook property, as he spoke at their Feb. 24 meeting. He recommended residents attend the upcoming public meetings to tell legislators how to spend the recent environmental bond funds approved by voters.
Marie Knight, Oyster Bay Civic Association president; guest speaker Kyle Rabin, Friends of the Bay executive director; Judith-Ann Barnett, OBCA secretary.
Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi announced that the Environmental Advisory Committee will be conducting three public meetings to discuss with Nassau residents the $50 million environmental program and provide them with opportunities to nominate properties and suggest projects for the environmental program, which will preserve Nassau County's open space, farmland and environmental assets.
The environmental program, which was approved by Nassau voters last November, authorizes the county to fund projects in four areas: open space and parkland acquisition, parkland improvement, storm water quality improvement and brownfields remediation. Mr. Suozzi appointed the advisory committee last year to develop a list of priority projects for funding under the Environmental Program and the committee is chaired by Dr. Brian Muellers, former Nassau County legislator for this area. The other members of the committee are Dennis Kelly, Dan McCloy, Lisa Ott, Adrienne Esposito, Cynthia Cooper, Jerry Colonna, Susan Gordon-Ryan, Ralph Fumante and Neal Lewis.
Schedule of Public Meetings: The first meeting will be on Monday, Feb. 28, at 7:30 p.m. at Jericho High Schol at 99 Cedar Swamp Rd., Jericho; the second meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 1 at 7:30 p.m. at West Hempstead High School at 400 Nassau Blvd., West Hempstead; the third meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Herricks Middle School at 7 Hillside Drive, Albertson.
Additional information will be available after the commencement of the public meetings at www.nassaucountyny.gov. If you have any questions, please call Katie Schwab at 571-0461 or Tom Maher, director of Environmental Coordination at 571-1250.
At the Feb. 17 meeting of the Oyster Bay Civic Association Mr. Rabin discussed the importance of the Mill Pond area for its historic value, as the location of the mills owned in 1669 by Henry Townsend; its location next to Council Rock where Quaker George Fox addressed residents of Oyster Bay in 1672; and as the location of the Oyster Bay Power Plant which remains on the site of the outfall from the pond. He praised its recreational value, that it is stocked with brown trout by the DEC.
Currently, he said, the Mill Pond is being stressed by vandalism, dumping and garbage: both residential and business. The area has a lean-to and broken glass that indicate it's being used by kids, he said. The Mill Pond empties through the tidal stream into Oyster Bay Harbor, a Regionally Important Natural Area and where most of New York State's oysters are harvested. The water quality is currently being polluted by Canada Geese which at times precludes shellfishing in the area.
Mr. Rabin said, since FOB has witnessed these stresses on the Mill Pond they feel it necessary to campaign to protect it by increasing awareness of the public; to participate in the environmental process being conducted for the Mill Pond Overlook proposal; to advocate for acquisition of the property to preserve it as open space; and to restore the land to its optimal natural condition.
To that end they have created the Coalition to Save the Mill Pond.
At the meeting, Marie Knight, OBCA board president said the civic association is opposed to the Mill Pond Overlook proposal. Mr. Rabin listed the essentials of the plan for a 68-unit senior citizen housing saying it will change the character of the area and add to traffic. Proposed by Carriage Hill Associates as Mill Pond Overlook, the property is owned by the Lizza family. The site needs a change of zone to create the multi-family senior residence on 4.6 acres. Mr. Rabin estimated the real estate is valued at $4.5 million and said he hoped the town and county could acquire it with the cooperation of the developers and that a compromise solution should be reached.
He urged people to submit written comments to the town on the proposal. Mr. Rabin has written to the US Fish and Wildlife Service about the impacts of development on the site to get their cooperation. The FOB website has more information that residents can access to reach elected officials: friendsofthebay.org.
Mr. Rabin said sewage is also a problem of the proposed development. Although the Oyster Bay Sewer District has room for the housing units, more treated effluent can reduce the area in Oyster Bay harbor that is used for shellfishing. Additionally, Island Properties has several parcels they are working on and the cumulative impact of development can be devastating for the harbor.
Part of the Mill Pond Overlook plan calls for re-grading the site and removing 20,000 cubic yards of soil which will also have effects on the site and on the community, considering the truck traffic needed to remove the material.
Several residents said they are willing to help the effort to stop the project. Tim Archdeacon said the law firm handling the case is that of GOP leader Joe Mondello. Mr. Archdeacon said, "Have you thought about the impact there." Mr. Rabin said, "We will get Supervisor Venditto to do the right thing and the louder we are and the more letters we generate the better."
Judy Kleinfeld said she was grateful to see that people were interested in the cause. She said, "I commit myself to this project. I have a passion for this particular issue. We will make it fly. It will lead to a successful outcome."